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Jan 30, 2024

The Professions of the Future (1)

Posted by in categories: automation, big data, business, computing, cyborgs, disruptive technology, education, Elon Musk, employment, evolution, futurism, information science, innovation, internet, life extension, lifeboat, machine learning, posthumanism, Ray Kurzweil, robotics/AI, science, singularity, Skynet, supercomputing, transhumanism

We are witnessing a professional revolution where the boundaries between man and machine slowly fade away, giving rise to innovative collaboration.

Photo by Mateusz Kitka (Pexels)

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to advance by leaps and bounds, it’s impossible to overlook the profound transformations that this technological revolution is imprinting on the professions of the future. A paradigm shift is underway, redefining not only the nature of work but also how we conceptualize collaboration between humans and machines.

As creator of the ETER9 Project (2), I perceive AI not only as a disruptive force but also as a powerful tool to shape a more efficient, innovative, and inclusive future. As we move forward in this new world, it’s crucial for each of us to contribute to building a professional environment that celebrates the interplay between humanity and technology, where the potential of AI is realized for the benefit of all.

In the ETER9 Project, dedicated to exploring the interaction between artificial intelligences and humans, I have gained unique insights into the transformative potential of AI. Reflecting on the future of professions, it’s evident that adaptability and a profound understanding of technological dynamics will be crucial to navigate this new landscape.

Widespread automation is no longer a distant ‘threat’; it’s a reality shaping the job market. It reminds me of what I enjoyed most about programming during the golden age of computing. Routines were written only once, to be used many times; as many times as necessary, for the sake of execution efficiency and rapid development. Professions based on repetitive tasks are gradually being absorbed by algorithms and robots (3). However, instead of viewing this as a loss of jobs, we should embrace the opportunity to reinvent traditional work.

The professions of the future will be characterized by a symbiotic collaboration between humans and machines. While AI takes on routine tasks, humans will be free to focus on areas that require creativity, emotion, and critical thinking — inherently human skills.

In adapting to this new work environment, it’s imperative that we cultivate key skills aligned with emerging needs. The ability for continuous learning will be essential as technologies evolve rapidly. A deep understanding of AI, coupled with the ability to collaborate with algorithms, will be significant advantages.

Moreover, creativity and solving complex problems will be highly valued skills. While AI handles predictable tasks that can be mathematically executed in fractions of a second, humans will be entrusted with dealing with ambiguous challenges and unique situations that require intuition and discernment.

Repetitive and predictable tasks are being taken over by machines, freeing up human resources for more creative and cognitively challenging tasks. However, this raises the following question:

— How can we adapt and thrive in an ever-changing landscape?

The future job market demands a mindset of continuous learning. As technologies evolve, it’s imperative for professionals to reinvent themselves and acquire new skills. Formal and informal education becomes a powerful tool, providing the flexibility needed to stay relevant in a world where skills become obsolete faster than ever. A college degree today holds little value if not complemented with continuous learning.

AI is not here to replace humans but to enhance their capabilities. Collaboration between humans and machines will be constant, requiring an interdisciplinary approach to solving complex problems. Professions focusing on the management, interpretation, and enhancement of AI systems will be increasingly valued.

In an increasingly automated world, unique human skills such as creativity, empathy, and emotional intelligence become precious. Professions that demand critical thinking, solving non-standardized problems, and emotional understanding will be in high demand. The ability to innovate and think outside the box will be more valuable than ever.

With growing reliance on algorithms for crucial decision-making, there is a need for professionals dedicated to the ethics and governance of AI. Ensuring that systems are fair, transparent, and aligned with social values becomes a critical concern. AI ethics experts will play a crucial role in shaping a future where technology serves the common good.

Digital entrepreneurship will emerge (has already emerged) as a driving force behind the professions of the future. The ability to identify opportunities, create innovative solutions, and adapt quickly to market changes will be crucial. Those with an entrepreneurial mindset, willing to embrace risk, will be the architects of tomorrow.

With the decline of some traditional professions, new opportunities and professions are also emerging. AI ethics experts, programmers specializing in handling deep learning systems, user experience designers for human-machine interfaces, and cybersecurity engineers will become fundamental pillars of the new professional era.

The creation and maintenance of AI systems will also become critical areas. Professions dedicated to overseeing and ensuring that Artificial Intelligence operates ethically and safely will be essential to mitigate the ethical and social challenges associated with its widespread implementation.

As we outline the professions of the future, it’s imperative to embrace change with wisdom and resilience. AI is not a threat but a powerful tool that can free humans to focus on what they do best. By developing specific skills and embracing new opportunities, we can shape a future where humans and artificial intelligences collaborate harmoniously, harnessing the best of both worlds. The challenge is significant, but the opportunities are equally vast. We are on an exciting path toward a new professional horizon, where imagination and innovation will be the true engines of progress.

In the recent past, the idea of machines and algorithms performing complex tasks seemed to belong to the realm of science fiction. However, the present is marked by automation, machine learning, and AI, transforming industries and redefining the professional landscape.

We cannot ignore the fact that the professions of tomorrow will be radically different from those of today, and it’s essential that we are prepared to navigate this new ocean of opportunities and challenges.

(1) When I was invited to my first TED Talk in 2017 at TEDx Lugano, the theme was curiously about the Professions of the Future. Six years later, it’s interesting to see how the visions from that time are now deeply integrated into our daily lives. It’s crucial to recognize that most of our time is dedicated to work; therefore, it’s fundamental that it be an enjoyable and engaging activity, not the other way around! Now, more than ever, it’s essential to act to shape a better future of work.

(2) ETER9 is a social networking platform that enables users to create digital counterparts based on advanced AI algorithms. These AI counterparts interact, learn from experiences, and make decisions on behalf of users, extending digital presence beyond physical reality. Digital counterparts can share information, ideas, and even represent their users when they aren’t available (even in extreme cases of absence, such as illness or… death).
One of the goals of the ETER9 Project is to relieve humans of mundane digital tasks, delegating these responsibilities to their AI counterparts while they focus on more meaningful human activities.

(3) From the Czech word ‘robota’ (for ‘servitude,’ ‘forced labor’ or ‘drudgery’), robot it’s a term used to describe artificial beings created to perform human work. Czech writer Karel Capek, at the suggestion of his brother Joseph, coined this expression in 1920 when he wrote a play. Depending on whether one is pessimistic or optimistic (I’m optimistic), these now more powerful beings may either destroy or help humanity evolve.

© 2024 Henrique Jorge
This article was originally published in Portuguese on Link To Leaders.